Living with eczema is difficult. While it is neither contagious nor life-threatening, people who have eczema know the effect it can have on their lives and mental well-being. As a rule, people feel better when they look good. Because it affects the skin and is a disease that is visible, people who have it can feel very self-conscious about their condition.
Before we talk about how to get rid of eczema with a very simple treatment, let’s talk a little bit about what it is, and what causes it.
What is Eczema?
While most people think of eczema as being a single diagnosis, it is actually a word used to describe a group of medical conditions which cause inflammation and irritation of the skin. The most common form of the disease is called atopic dermatitis, or atopic eczema.
Eczema is most common in people who have allergies. Current estimates are that approximately 35 million Americans have eczema – 1-3% of all adults, and 10-20% of all children. Children under the age of 5 account for approximately 70% of all eczema cases, and people who develop eczema in infancy often continue to have symptoms into adulthood.
The primary symptom of eczema is a rash, which causes the skin to be dry, red and scaly. It is very itchy, and most likely to appear on the face, the backs of the knees, and the wrists, hands and feet. While it is not certain what causes eczema to flare up in people who have it, some things that may contribute are:
- Colds or viral infections that weaken the immune system
- Exposure to household irritants, such as harsh detergents
- Wearing rough or coarse clothing that irritates the skin
- Coming into contact with animal dander
- Extremes of hot or cold
- Stress and anxiety
People who have eczema can minimize the chance of an outbreak by eating a healthy diet that includes foods that boost the immune system. Foods that contain micronutrients with antioxidant properties may be especially beneficial. Some foods that help strengthen immunity are dark leafy greens, citrus fruits, nuts, and seeds. Foods containing flavonoids are also good choices, such as green tea, blueberries and dark chocolate. In addition to eating healthy foods, it is important to eliminate foods that may cause inflammation. Highly processed foods tend to include added sugars, trans fats and monosodium glutamate. Eliminating these foods from your diet may help reduce the chances of an outbreak. In addition to processed foods, some other things that may trigger inflammation in certain people include gluten (the protein found in wheat and other grains), dairy products, and caffeine. If you suspect one of these may be contributing to your eczema, experiment with cutting back or eliminating them from your diet.
A Simple Natural Treatment for Eczema
Mild cases of eczema are often treated by using over-the-counter medications, such as hydrocortisone cream. More severe cases can be treated with stronger, prescription-strength creams containing hydrocortisone or other drugs. While these drugs are effective in relieving the itch associated with eczema, they also carry some potentially serious side effects. Hydrocortisone is a steroid. While steroids are less harmful when applied topically than when taken orally, there is still some risk associated with using them. Other drugs used to treat eczema include barrier repair moisturizers containing ceramide, a type of fat which occurs naturally in the outer layer of your skin. However, these moisturizers sometimes also contain added fragrance and other ingredients that may irritate the skin. Topical immunomodulators are also sometimes prescribed, but they can increase your chances of getting skin cancer and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Fortunately, you do not need to rely on prescription medication to get rid of eczema. There is a simple natural remedy that is widely available, and may be used in various forms: aloe vera.
You are probably familiar with the idea of using aloe vera to treat burns and scrapes. Aloe vera is a succulent plant whose juice has healing properties. It moisturizes the skin, promotes healthy cell growth, and also acts as a protective barrier. There are several ways you can use aloe vera to treat eczema:
The wonderful thing about using aloe vera as a treatment for eczema is that it is inexpensive, all-natural, and does not require a trip to the doctor. Because eczema is most common in children, the best option may be simply moisturizing the skin with aloe vera gel. When you use aloe vera, you avoid exposing your child to the harmful side effects of harsh prescription medications. Aloe vera can let you say goodbye to eczema in a completely natural way.